2019 ANZ Premiership Preview – Round 2
Northern Mystics v Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel
Saturday, March 2 in Auckland
How much will the physical toll impact an Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel side suiting up for its third game in a week? Coach Reinga Bloxham has used her entire bench in both of the Steel’s matches including a convincing 20-goal win over The Good Oil Tactix on Tuesday. The connections with South African shooter Lenize Potgieter look more solid with every outing although Steel centurion Shannon Saunders admits they are still “figuring it out” having had just two full trainings together. “We’re getting their slowly,” she said. The Steel face a Northern Mystics side which has had plenty of time to lick their wounds after a disappointing opening round. Disjointed on attack and unable to gain enough ball on defence, stymied their first round efforts. Coach Helene Wilson has plenty to ponder after her shooting circle failed to fire and lacked in accuracy with ball in hand. Defender Michaela Sokolich-Beatson was a high point for the Mystics and Wilson must now determine where the youngster is most effective. She got her hand to ball and was a strong driving presence through court. She may be needed on the wing against the Steel in a bid to blunt the impact of Gina Crampton.
WHO TO WATCH:
Phoenix Karaka (Mystics) – an important time for the new Mystics captain as she looks to rally the troops and help lift them against the defending champions. Finished strongly against the Pulse with five intercepts, three deflections and three rebounds.
Elisapeta Toeava (Mystics) versus Kate Heffernan (Steel) – Toeava is now one of the Mystics’ senior members up front and faces a big workload as her side attempts to bed in a new-look shooting circle. Is up against Heffernan who has made two strong starts this season.
Gina Crampton (Steel) – showed her class in an impressive win in Round 1 and is building her connection with Lenize Potgieter. Ran out two full games in the first round so could be feeling the effects.
Splice Construction Magic v Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse
Monday, March 4 in Rotorua
Just how much the Splice Construction Magic have progressed will be put to the test in Rotorua. They bounced back from a disappointing campaign opener to storm home against the Northern Stars. But now they face Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse – a slick unit which has hit the ground running in the ANZ Premiership. The young Magic shooting circle made great strides against the Stars but face a different beast in Katrina Rore and Sulu Fitzpatrick. Captain Casey Kopua however believes the inexperienced combination is up to the task having taken great strides over the two games played. “The confidence they’ve gained is huge,” she said of Monica Falkner and Abigail Latu-Meafou. Kopua was also pleased to see the Magic hold their nerve in a tense final quarter against the Stars but feels there will be room for improvement against the Pulse, particularly finishing each spell strongly. “It’s just those crucial moment and recognising them, and finishing our quarters at the end there.” The Magic will need another 60 minute performance against a Pulse side which excelled in all areas. Coach Yvette McCausland-Durie has enviable strength on her bench with rookies Maddy Gordon and Elle Temu both slotting in well to the Pulse machine.
WHO TO WATCH:
Simmon Howe (Magic) – a replacement player to fill in for the injured Sydney Fraser. Has certainly done her job at wing attack for the Magic and held her own against Kayla Cullen last week. Faces another stern test against Silver Fern Karin Burger.
Ameliaranne Ekenasio (Pulse) versus Casey Kopua (Magic) – a super match-up between these two Silver Ferns. Ekenasio got the starting nod in Round 1 and her experience could be preferred against Kopua who grabbed an intercept and seven deflections against the Stars.
Claire Kersten (Pulse) – the General through the middle for the Pulse, has the ability to change the pace of play if needed. Looks strong with her drive to the circle edge and feeds into her shooters.
Northern Stars v The Good Oil Tactix
Wednesday, March 6 in Auckland
The Good Oil Tactix need to find a fix up front if they are to challenge the Northern Stars, after a disappointing finish to Round 1. The loss of Erikana Pedersen, who suffered a knee injury five minutes into the season, has been telling as they scramble to re-jig their frontline. They have had a week to look at their options and will need to bounce back from the 20-goal loss to the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel. Captain Jane Watson was blunt in her assessment and says it was a performance she doesn’t want to see repeated. “We didn’t give ourselves enough options on attack and didn’t get enough ball on D,” she said. Watson said the Tactix would need to work on their structures and new combinations ahead of the Stars clash. “There’s a lot to work on.” Her Stars counterpart, Leana de Bruin, was just as disappointed with her team’s finish against the Magic believing they lost confidence and failed ‘to let the ball go’. “We were just not composed. I think we lost our rhythm so we’ll need to go back and look at that.”
WHO TO WATCH:
Charlee Hodges (Stars) – got her first start when she suited up against the Magic and looked confident from the opening whistles. Faded in the second quarter and will be hoping to add to her court time.
Ellie Bird (Tactix) versus Storm Purvis (Stars) – the towering Tactix shooter shoulders plenty of responsibility for her team and comes up against Purvis who looks to have found her groove in her new Stars colours.
Kate Lloyd (Tactix) – has moved home during the off season and made a mixed start to her campaign. Combined well with captain Jane Watson in the Tactix’ win but struggled to make an impact in the loss to the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel.